Be aware when your direct reports are overconfident in themselves because they can’t account for uncertainty, they overestimate their talent or they underestimate the skills of the people around them, writes University of Texas at Austin professor Art Markman. “In addition, you should help your reports to understand how much support they will need from others high up in the organization in order to succeed in the long run,” Markman writes.



Ideally, people’s confidence in the workplace is well-calibrated to their ability and the situation. If they are under-confident, then they may not take on opportunities that would benefit them in the long-run. If they are overconfident, then they may agree to things they cannot handle.

As a manager, you should pay attention to the confidence displayed by your direct reports. When you think they are being overconfident, it is useful to help them to recognize the reasons why they should temper their enthusiasm. To do that, you first need to be clear about exactly what they are overconfident about.


There are three main sources of overconfidence:

One of the most significant ways that people display overconfidence is that they are unaware of the many ways that a given situation might lead to bad outcomes. It can be difficult for people to recognize the variety of ways that something can go wrong, even in situations that may seem simple.

There are just many factors that are beyond the control of an individual or team. A client may be considering multiple offers that you are not aware of. A competitor may be working on a similar product to one you are developing. The market may take a downturn just as your company is preparing for an IPO.